Winter Break is How Long?

winterbreak

With Winter Break halfway behind us, many parents may be wondering how to fill some of the waking hours. Here are a few things you can do inside and out, so when you hear, “I’m bored!” scan the list for a few ideas.

Go On a Scavenger Hunt
Inside scavenger hunts could include hiding parts of a building kit in different places in the house. Clues are given to the whereabouts of the pieces. Once all items are found, directions are given and your child can make his/her own creation.
Outside scavenger hunts can be creating using a checklist and a camera. Create a list items found in your neighborhood (pine tree, roof top, red door, Spot the dog, etc.). Then take a walk together and have your child take pictures of each item. Once home, organize a digital presentation that your child can share with the family at dinner time.

Make Ornaments For Trees – Inside and Out
Homemade ornaments for the Christmas tree will create memories for a lifetime. Hands On As We Grow is filled with great ideas. Or, create birdfeeders for your trees outside.

Imagine a New World
Turn your playroom into a grocery store, tea shop, or woodshop. It is a great way for siblings to play together. Dramatic play also helps children learn to problem solve and build their imagination.

Build With Blocks
Working with blocks helps the child’s small muscle skills. It also allows the child to form mental pictures and the opportunity to recreate the image in concrete form.

Get Artsy
Paint, sculpt, and draw with seasonal crafts, or make your own Christmas and Thank You cards. You can even host an art show for the neighborhood children, creating an opportunity for them to show off their creations to their parents – a great way to build community.

Turn Trash Into Treasure
Use your recyclables to create your own robot, superhero, building, or anything else your child imagines. Allow him/her to draw out their design first, then collect their supplies and create their masterpiece.

Read, Read, Read
Create a contest in your house to see who can read the most books, and read together as a family. Take trips to the library to generate interest in new books and topics. To interact with your community, take a trip to the local nursing homes to read to the elderly.

Go Out!
Take your family bowling. Check out the local bowling alley’s website for discounted days.
Try out a new restaurant.
Play hide and seek.
Take the opportunity to explore what our local area has to offer with Atlanta’s holiday activities.

We hope you enjoy every moment of the break together and have a wonderful holiday season!

Technology in the Classroom: What Teachers Think About the Latest Trends

Edudemic shares an interesting perspective on current developments in the classroom, including the incorporation of various forms of technology – how teachers feel about the top 10 current educational trends. European and North American teachers were polled by Menco Platform, social knowledge-sharing platform, to see which trends were exciting and which were more hype than substance for classroom leaders. The results paint an interesting picture of the future of technology and its role in the classroom.

Top 10 Educational Trends

Montessori Primer – Technology at Home

Studies show that students do not enjoy working at home on the same things that they are doing at school, and that students who do a lot of paperwork for homework are not as efficient in class. Technology can be a great way for children to practice skills they are learning at school in a format that engages their mind and interest in a different way.

Students are increasingly engaging with technology through smart phone and tablet apps, and a growing number of these activities are Montessori-themed. But are “Montessori apps” effective? Bobby and June George, owners of Baan Dek Montessori in Souix Falls, South Dakota, and of Montessorium, a company devoted to creating “self-guided learning experiences for children,” maintain that they are. In their interview with blogger Lori Bourne of Montessori for Everyone, the Georges give a brief overview of their products, how they got started, and why they consider their products to be true to traditional Montessori ideology.

“If Maria Montessori were alive today, we think that she would be at the Apple store, playing with an iPad, thinking hard about these complicated issues… In our opinion, Maria Montessori would be trying to open up and discover new ways to think about how we learn.” – Bobby and June George

Montessori Primer – What Are Typical Uses of Technology In a Montessori Classroom?

“What purpose would education serve in our days unless it helped humans to a knowledge of the environment to which they have to adapt themselves?”- Maria Montessori

Maria Montessori saw children as global citizens who need to learn real-world concepts, and in a Montessori classroom, children are actively engaged in real-world learning. Technology has the potential to play an important role in this dynamic approach when computers are used as a tool to reinforce skills – to be relatable to the life skills children are developing – rather than as the focus of a specific computer education class taught within a one hour period in isolation. Currently in our classrooms, there are iPads and desktop computers. The students use these tools to enhance research and presentation, and to reinforce skills learned within the classroom. At the elementary level, students learn to create PowerPoint presentations and videos to support the communication of their research. An example at the primary level may include using the computer to watch an educational video showing how seeds grow, reinforcing scientific concepts and inspiring the children on gardening day.

In her article Integrating Technology into the Montessori Elementary Classroom, former Montessori educator and current education advocate Elizabet Hubbell describes in detail a full school day of a lower elementary Montessori student and how technology plays a major role in her educational journey. The beginning of the article is a brief overview of a staple in a Lower Elementary classroom – the work plan. The work plan is used as an organizational tool for both student and teacher. Although the work plan varies from classroom to classroom, the essential part is usually present; subjects/areas to be practiced throughout a specific week. The students are responsible for completing tasks and the teacher uses it to notate areas of focus for each child as well as a record keeping tool.

The article then follows the child from one work to the other and demonstrates how technology is incorporated in several aspects of the classroom. First, the child works on creating “Famous Places” cards to add to the classroom collection. She uses the computer to research, create, add pictures, and resize the card to match the ones already in place. The article then touches on other sections of the classroom where technology has been and continues to play a major role, including a plethora of ways to incorporate technology to help children manipulate math in a high tech way.

Although this article does not specifically measure student learning outcomes, it does provide a good base for usage of technology in many facets of the Lower Elementary classroom. It also provides many specific examples, including work created by students through the use of classroom technology. Hubbell also addresses the negative outlook some Montessorians might have of integrating the “new” with the “old school” way of teaching Montessori by validating positive learning experiences provided by the use of technology.

Please join us for our next post as we look at the use of technology in the home!

Montessori Primer – Where Does Technology Fit in a Montessori Environment?

The incorporation of technology into the Montessori classroom is a choice that must be considered in each Montessori school. Some Montessori schools embrace technology; other Montessori schools prohibit its use. One might wonder, What would Maria Montessori have thought?

In studying Dr. Montessori’s life, it is evident that her scientific and educational ideas were revolutionary in the early 1900’s. In observing and encouraging change based on the needs of the children, she created a methodology for teaching that was very progressive for the Industrial Age. The following chart, based on information shared on former Montessori educator and current education advocate Elizabeth Hubbell’s blog, illustrates that – though Montessori worked in the Industrial Age – her approach to education and child development were ahead of their time, and are perfectly suited to learning in the Information Age.

 

Industrial Age

 

Information Age

 Books are primary tools Technology is primary tool
 Grade levels based on age Learning in a community of various ages
 Focus on covering specific content Focus on meeting learners’ needs
 Learning “just in case” – information which may not be currently relevant Learning “just in time” – learning that is developmentally appropriate
 Testing to a normalized standard Assessment based on individual performance
 Classroom as the world World as the classroom
 Focus on rote memorization Focus on problem solving
 Competition with fellow students Collaboration with fellow students
 Teacher-centered Learner-centered
 Teacher as knowledge-giver Teacher as coach

Please join us throughout the coming week as we examine the integration of technology into the Montessori classroom and the home!

Montessori Primer: Inviting Your Children to Help Prepare Thanksgiving Dinner

As we’ve discussed in our previous posts exploring nutrition, a vital element in educating children about food and healthy choices and encouraging independence is having your children participate in the preparation of meals. What better time than this week, with Thanksgiving only a few days away, to develop the habit of your children helping in the kitchen?

My Kids’ Adventures, an excellent blog dedicated to equipping parents to make the most of moments with their children, offers suggestions for 12 classic Thanksgiving sides that are perfect for children to make alongside their parents. They also remind readers of the value involving the whole family in the planning of the meal – which not only increases enthusiasm for the dishes presented, but offers great hands-on experience in the practical steps needed to put a meal together.

We hope you and your families have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Montessori Primer: New Ideas for the Lunchbox

Today, we return to our Montessori Primer and our exploration of nutrition in the Montessori classroom.

As we discussed in our previous post, lunch can be the most challenging meal for a parent to prepare. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of sandwich after sandwich, or to lean on pre-packaged, processed food in fear that healthier options will be thrown away.

Finding helpful resources and developing a plan are key to keeping lunches stress-free for parents and successful with little eaters. Lisa Leake, author of the excellent blog 100 Days of Real Food, offers fantastic tips for parents on mixing up the usual lunchbox routine with everything from smoothies to kabobs, all with nutritious ingredients that are easy and quick to prepare. She also offers tips for streamlining the prep of lunches, a multitude of great snack ideas (which can also be used to round out a lunchbox meal, or to keep mom and dad going throughout the day!), and a wealth of other recipes, meal plans, and general nutrition resources – including tips on dealing with “picky” eaters!

Please join us later in the week as we continue our Montessori Primer look at nutrition!

Welcome, New Readers!

We’re so excited that you’ve taken time to visit the Montessori Academy blog! Each week, we add new posts covering a wide range of topics relevant to parents, in a format that’s easily digestible, informative, and applicable.

In order to help you get acquainted with the rich content already published, we’ve put together a brief list of key past posts on certain topics. Please look around, learn, and enjoy!

Montessori Philosophy in the Classroom

Montessori Primer: Core Philosophies

Revolutionary Learning

Montessori’s Brain-Based Approach

Montessori Primer: A Day in Our Lives – A Daily Timeline

Montessori Philosophy in the Home

Montessori Primer: Principles of a Montessori Classroom (and How They Can Be Applied at Home)

Montessori Primer: Applying Montessori Principles at Home, Part 2

Montessori Primer: Applying Montessori Principles at Home, Part 3

Montessori Primer: Applying Montessori Principles at Home, Part 4

Montessori Primer: Interacting With Your Child in a Montessori Way

Parenting and Childhood Development

Montessori Primer: Praise and Intrinsic Motivation

Montessori Primer: How to Reach Joyful Obedience

Montessori Primer: Nurturing a Lifelong Learner

101 Things Parents Can Do To Help Children

Montessori Madmen

Montessori Primer: We Are What We Eat

Welcome, new readers! We are so glad you’ve taken a moment to visit our blog, where we regularly share rich, easily digestible info for families about Montessori both in the classroom and in the home. Today, we continue our Montessori Primer with an exploration of the importance of nutritious foods and the role they play in your child’s readiness to learn. Please join us on Monday when we’ll take a brief break from our Primer to roll out the welcome mat to our blog, highlighting the content we’ve shared and helping new readers get acquainted.

No discussion regarding lunch is complete without looking at nutrition. It is easy to trade convenience in lieu of food value. For dinners, we put together meals that are balanced nutritionally for our family, but sometimes approach lunch by trading home cooked meals for pre-packaged options. Most parents fear that nutritionally rich items will simply go uneaten and be thrown away.

Dr. Montessori was one of the first to recognize the link between nutrition and the brain. Maria Montessori believed that as guardians of children, we need to prepare the child for school by preparing their bodies with nutritionally rich foods. “You are what you eat,” should be kept in mind. Children who are prepared for their day with proper breakfast are better prepared to learn in the classroom. Lunch serves the same purpose. Children need a balanced meal to help them focus during the rest of their day. In Dr. Montessori’s book The Secret of Childhood she states,

“One of the most striking things about our normalizing [Montessori] schools is the fact that children who have been freed from their psychic deviations and have acquired a normal state lose their greedy craving for food. They became interested in eating correctly and with the proper gestures.”

Children should be involved in preparing their food. Let your child help you pick out the fruits and vegetables they choose to eat. Set up a station to help them prepare their meals easily. Teach them about how food fuels their bodies, and always teach them the importance of grace and courtesy.

For more ideas on packing healthy lunches that children enjoy eating, visit Laptop Lunches, the makers of a bento-style lunchbox kit, who provide many useful tips on creating attractive and nutritious meals.

Montessori Primer: Developing Mealtime Independence and Skills

On Monday, we began discussing nutrition and mealtime with an introduction to lunch time in the Montessori classroom. Today, we’ll examine steps you can take at home to help your child develop independence and master the skills required to meet his own fundamental need.

Make lunch together

Developing independence relies upon seizing teachable moments. Just as in the classroom, parents need to provide opportunities to teach their children how to care for themselves. Making lunches is one of those moments. It is a moment to improve your child’s vocabulary, teaching the nutritional value of what they eat, and food handling safety. Most importantly, children who prepare their own food are more likely to eat what they prepare.

Pack lunch Montessori-style

When considering your child’s lunch, there are two key things to keep in mind: your child’s taste buds and the small size of their tummies. Provide a variety of single foods rather than an adult-sized meal. Children are more apt to eat items in small portions (half a chicken breast cut into small pieces) than larger items (an entire chicken breast). We find that students will first partake of their crackers because they can be eaten individually without aid from a teacher. Children will not sit down and eat an entire apple at lunch, but they will eat a 2 slices. Small, separate portions let children combine foods in different ways.

Children also love to dip their foods. Simple veggie dip with carrots, cucumbers, and broccoli can be a delicious treat for your child to eat on his own. Bread sliced into cracker size pieces with similarly sized pieces of meat and cheese or spreadable peanut butter and jelly allow your child to create her own sandwich combinations.

Involving your child in the preparation of lunch ensures that lunch time will be more successful.

‘Only man is guilty of the vice of gluttony, which blindly leads him to eat not only more than he should but also what is actually harmful.’ Maria Montessori

Join us Friday as we continue our discussion of nutrition by exploring the idea of “We Are What We Eat.”